A Quarrel Of Sparrows

Stealth bombers dominate our front garden feeders.

Silently they crowd the seed provider, with a

considerable amount of spillage

cleared up by robin Ron for whom this particular container was provided,

and larger birds like blackbirds

and woodpigeons.

The voracious field sparrows dart onto any vacant perch. They engage in fearsome face-offs. Spreading or violently flapping their wings and viciously pecking they dive-bomb their rivals to take their places at the trough.

It is hardly surprising that a collective noun for sparrows is a quarrel.

This afternoon Jackie went into the garden in search of Nugget, who she photographed as he cocked his head awry.

“Where’s Nugget?” (60)

She thinks the solitary crow on our rooftop is Russell, who latched onto her in its infancy in June 2018.

She also photographed

an iris,

the Weeping Birch,

a vinca,

an owl on the stumpery,

an osteospermum,

campanula,

heuchera leaves,

and emerging snowdrops.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent beef and mushroom pie; creamy potato and swede mash; firm carrots and Brussels sprouts; tender cabbage; and thick, tasty, gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Garnacha Syrah.

 

Decidedly Reluctant To Test The Water

Blackbirds are now in the process of stripping our crab apple trees of fruit.

After a quick look around,

they tear off an apple then make their way back to their homes across the road.

We can just make out others, like this sparrow, about to leave the runway over there.

Raindrops kept the food moist between bouts of sunshine.

We spent some time making Christmas cards before and after lunch. By the time we drove to Everton Post Office to send them on their way the rain had ceased and the sky cleared somewhat.

Sunset beckoned as we approached Shirley Holms afterwards.

Pools developing on the soggy terrain.

A car drew up and parked in puddles.

The owner decanted two dogs. The animal with the thinner coat appeared decidedly reluctant to test the water.

Running streams were being gouged into the stony moorland,

and flowing over the lane.

Pastel cloudscapes resembled cotton billows.

Ponies would continue chomping grass well into the night.

Further along Shirley Holms Road unusually silent starlings gathered on an oak,

equally silently took to flight.

The still, crystal clear lake at Pilley produce mirror images,

while sunset’s pink and indigo fingers streaked the underlying pale blue skies.

 

Not Cold Enough

Perhaps it was the very light overnight frost that led the blackbirds to investigate the neglected crab apples in the front garden.

This one turned its back on them and considerately stayed just long enough for me to photograph it.

We still have plenty of colour in our plot.

There are winter flowering plants such as this viburnum bodnantensis Dawn in Margery’s Bed,

and the tiny clematis cirrhosa Freckles dotted over the gazebo.

Hardy autumnal chrysanthemums we do expect;

maybe some of these fuchsias are tough enough to make it through the winter;

but self seeded bidens?;

still perky nasturtiums?;

sturdy penstemons?;

varieties of geranium not sheltered in the greenhouse?;

roses such as ascending Altissimo,

blushing Schoolgirl,

marvellous Mamma Mia,

and blooming Absolutely Fabulous?

To send these beauties packing it is not yet cold enough.

This evening Jackie produced a fillet of pork laced with powdered mustard, flaked almonds, and brown sugar, served with roast potatoes and parsnips; colourful rainbow carrots, firm Brussels sprouts, and tender runner beans. Having enjoyed a beer beforehand, neither of us imbibed.

 

 

 

Strange Courtship

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This morning we drove out to Eyeworth Pond and back.

Yesterday evening I described the heavy rain that pummelled the pavement. It continued throughout the night. This is what it did to

Brockenhurst’s landscaped lawns,

and to its ford.

Some vehicles travelled through the water with caution;

others ripped through them; still more turned around and chose another route.

Cyclists used the bridge. I did point out to a couple of these that last year, not only had a pair of them whizzed through the flood, but they had responded to my request to do it again. These two did not accept my challenge. Perhaps I wasn’t direct enough.

On Eyeworth Pond a pair of Canada geese floated around, and occasionally went fishing.

The Mallards were in full courting mode. Sometimes the ladies were encircled by the males, sometimes chased around. At times I wasn’t sure the females were not making the paddling.

One couple did appear to be engaged in a strange courtship involving rear displays and synchronised diving.

Spray formed on a clear pool now covering terrain that normally provided forage for ponies.

A somewhat quizzical blackbird investigated the seeds left on the gatepost to the woodland walk.

A blue tit eyed me from a holly bush,

Robin

as did a solitary robin.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid sausage casserole served with slightly orange tinged creamy mashed potato and swede, bright orange carrots, off white cauliflower, pale green sautéed leeks, and deep red cabbage. Jackie drank sparkling water and I drank San Andres Chilean merlot.

A Conundrum 2

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We took it easy today. Prompted by today’s post from thebikinggardener I wandered around the garden to see how our Hellebores are doing.

Some way behind Geoff’s, ours are coming through.

Many primulas have so far survived the winter.

Mist on cherub

The shattered bits of cherub Jackie found in the undergrowth a couple of years ago have gained a fine coating of moss.

Honesty and weeping birch

The remnants of honesty, hollowing ovals on stems, blends well with the weeping birch bark.

The parent viburnum Bontantense and its two children are blooming well. One joins with a leycesteria in beginning to mask Aaron’s new fencing.

Winter flowering cherry

Alongside the winter flowering cherry

Blackbird

and beneath the crab apples, a blackbird dropped down for a change of diet.

Pieris

This pieris takes my mind off the fact that the grass needs cutting.

Hydrangea

A few youthful pink cheeks survive amid those ageing, wrinkly, and skeletal ones of this hydrangea.

Eggshells on new bed

Finally, the conundrum. Who has dragged a clutch of eggshells from the compost heap across the New Bed? Well, we did spot a rat, hands and nose pressed to the pane, peering, like Tiny Tim, through our window when we ate our Christmas dinner.

Just before 4.30 p.m., we dashed out to Barton on Sea to watch the sun sink into Christchurch Bay. I did not stage the photograph of the woman kicking it back up into the sky.

A while later we dined at Lal Quilla. My choice was lamb shatkora massala; Jackie’s prawn sallee. We shared an egg paratha, mushroom rice, and sag bahji; and both drank Kingfisher.

Mastering The Technique

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Well, I’m still struggling to upload photographs. James Peacock came this morning to get fibre optic broadband under way, but BT Open Reach had not taken the last step in installation. This appears to have been done late this afternoon so James will return tomorrow.

While James was wrestling with this, I chatted to a blackbird enjoying a brunch of crab apples. This one has now mastered the technique of chipping away at the fruit without knocking it to the ground. The bird no longer attempts to swallow the meal whole, but neither does it lose it like a toddler learning to use a fork. In fact it was very like a little person, in that bits of food tended to be plastered over its beak.

Our friends Margery and Paul came to lunch and we enjoyed our usual fun conversation well into the afternoon. Jackie made a delicious spinach soup which was followed by a plentiful salad with haloumi, ham, and pork and chicken pie. After that, ham sandwiches sufficed this evening.

Alfresco Dining

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There are still plenty enough crab apples on our trees to attract blackbirds daily. This morning I watched them eating. They are quite territorial over their meal table, tending to deter unwelcome guests. They prefer to approach the fruit on the higher branches. If they do not drop them onto the plants below, they are capable of swallowing them in one go.

Later this afternoon, diverting to observe the beach huts burnished by sunset over Friars Cliff, we drove to Curry’s/PC World at Christchurch for some Christmas shopping.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla in Lymington. My choice was Purple Tiger (tiger prawns and aubergine) and Jackie chose Harayali chicken (not sure if I’ve spelled it correctly, but it is spinach based). We shared mushroom rice, tarka dal, and a paratha; and both drank Kingfisher.